Al-Qaida claims Algeria terror attack

At least 30 people killed as explosions rock PM's office, police station.

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April 11, 2007 14:14
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Al-Qaida's wing in North Africa on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the two bombings in Algeria in which at least 30 people were killed, the Al-Jazeera television station reported. The station said it received a telephone call from a spokesman for Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa claiming responsibility for both attacks. The station gave no further details. The group was formerly known as the Salafist Group for Call and Combat - known by its French abbreviation GSPC - but changed its name when it announced its alliance with al-Qaida in January. The first explosion rocked the prime minister's office in Algeria's capital ripping through some of its walls. Two witnesses said they had seen a person drive a car toward the building, and that the car exploded. They did not give their names, and their account could not immediately be corroborated. Fire officer Mourad Hasi said at least 10 bodies had been recovered. Other people were seen being led away with injuries. A charred, wrecked car lay on the pavement about 30 meters from the gates of the building, which houses the offices of both the prime minister and the interior minister. Six floors of the building were badly damaged and partially ripped away, and the iron gates outside were bent back by the force of the blast. Residents of eastern Algiers reported that a second explosion had occurred there, in front of a police station. Their account could not immediately be confirmed officially. Police cordoned off stairs leading up to the government building, and paramedics raced up the steps with stretchers. Paramedics escorted a man with blood on his head into an ambulance. Another woman, looking dazed and in tears, was checked for head injuries. The explosion occurred at about 11:50 local time (1050GMT), causing windows to rattle at least a kilometer away. An al-Qaida affiliate has recently carried out a deadly and carefully planned series of bomb attacks in the North African nation. Several targeted foreign workers. A March 3 bombing of a bus carrying workers for a Russian company killed a Russian engineer and three Algerians. A December attack near Algiers and targeting a bus carrying foreign employees of an affiliate of Halliburton killed an Algerian and a Lebanese citizen. Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa - the new name for the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, known by its French abbreviation GSPC - claimed responsibility for both previous attacks. Algeria has been fighting an insurgency that broke out in 1992 after the army canceled legislative elections, which an Islamic party appeared set to win. Since then, violence related to the insurgency has left an estimated 200,000 dead - civilians, soldiers and Islamic fighters - according to the government in the North African country. Large-scale violence died down in the late 1990s, but skirmishes have continued in recent months, particularly in the east and center of the country.


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